America's total solar eclipse has millions across US awaiting once-in-a-lifetime experience

 Eclipse spectators staked out their spots across three countries Sunday, fervently hoping for clear skies despite forecasts calling for clouds along most of the sun-vanishing route.

North America won’t see another coast-to-coast total solar eclipse for 21 years, prompting the weekend’s worry and mad rush.

Monday’s extravaganza stretches from Mexico’s Pacific beaches to Canada’s rugged Atlantic shores, with 15 U.S. states in between.

“I have arrived in the path of totality!” Ian Kluft announced Sunday afternoon after pulling into Mesquite from Portland, Oregon, a 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) drive.

total eclipse happens when the moon lines up perfectly between Earth and the sun, blotting out the sunlight. That means a little over four minutes of daytime darkness east of Dallas in Mesquite, where locals like Jorge Martinez have the day off. The land surveyor plans to “witness history” from home with his wife and their 3-year-old daughter, Nati.

“Hopefully, she’ll remember. She’s excited, too,” he said following breakfast at Dos Panchas Mexican Restaurant.

Inside the jammed restaurant, manager Adrian Martinez figured on staying open Monday.

“Wish it was going to be sunny like today,” he said. “But cloudiness? Hopefully, it still looks pretty good.”

Near Ennis, Texas, to the south, the Range Vintage Trailer Resort was also packed, selling out of spots more than a year ago.

“I booked it instantly, then I told my wife, ‘We’re going to Texas,’” Gotham, England’s Chris Lomas said from the trailer resort Sunday. Even if clouds obscure the covered-up sun, “it will still go dark. It’s just about sharing the experience with other people,” he added.

In Cleveland, the eclipse persuaded women’s Final Four fans Matt and Sheila Powell to stick around an extra day after Sunday’s game. But they were debating whether to begin their drive home to Missouri Valley, Iowa, early Monday in search of clearer skies along the eclipse’s path. “We’re trying to be flexible,” Powell said.

Even the eclipse professionals were up in the air.

Eclipse mapmaker Michael Zeiler had a perfect record ahead of Monday, seeing 11 out of 11 total solar eclipses after successfully relocating three of those times at the last minute for better weather.

“We are the complete opposite of tornado chasers, always seeking clear skies,” Zeiler said in an email over the weekend. This time, though, he was staying put in Fredericksburg, Texas, with his family, 10 of them altogether, and holding onto “a considerable ray of hope.”

Farther north, in Buffalo, New York, Jeff Sherman flew in from Somerville, Massachusetts, to catch his second total solar eclipse. After seeing the U.S. coast-to-coast eclipse in 2017, “now I have to see anyone that’s nearby, he said.

Kluft also enjoyed clear skies for the 2017 eclipse, in Oregon, and rolled into Mesquite wearing the T-shirt from that big event. As for Monday’s cloudy forecast across Texas, “at least I’ll be around people who are like-minded.”

Dicey weather was also predicted almost all the way to Lake Erie, despite Sunday’s gorgeous weather. The only places promised clear skies along Monday’s narrow 115-mile-wide (185-kilometer-wide) corridor of totality were New England and Canada.

Like everywhere else, the weather was the hot topic at the Buffalo Naval and Military Park on Sunday. By mid-morning, volunteer Tom Villa already had greeted tourists from several states, as well as Canada and Brazil.

“They hope it’s like this tomorrow, of course, but you know, the weather is the weather,” he said.

 In the remote town of Burgeo on the east coast of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, some residents are enthusiastically waiting to view Monday's rare solar eclipse and recreate the history of an island named by Captain James Cook.
British explorer Captain Cook, who was in Newfoundland in 1766 witnessed the solar eclipse of Aug. 5 while conducting astronomical observations and called the place Eclipse Island.
On Monday, the residents of the fishing town near the now uninhabited Eclipse Island will gather to celebrate the celestial event and start rebuilding a historic beacon on the island while watching the eclipse, where totality will last about two minutes.
"If we get 30 to 40 people to show up here just for the eclipse, I will be ecstatic," Michael Ward, the manager of Burgeo townhall told Reuters. Burgeo, home to about 1,100 residents, is more than a nine-hour drive from St. John's, the capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ward said the 8-foot (2.4 meter) tall beacon was originally built in the 1950s-60s by community members while the restoration will be funded by the National Marine Conservation Area and Sandbanks Provincial Park and run by solar power.
"Any more than that would put too much pressure (on businesses)," he added.
Burgeo residents will join millions of eclipse enthusiasts along a slender zone averaging about 115 miles (185 km) wide slicing through Mexico into Texas and across 14 other U.S. states and Quebec and four more provinces of Canada.
The solar eclipse, the first of its kind since 1979 in Canada, is creating a carnival atmosphere and many have been making travel plans for months. In Niagara, the local government has declared a state of emergency with a record of more than a million people expected to converge along the majestic falls and the popular tourist destination.
Giving true meaning to Eclipse Island, in Burgeo, a community-focused event at the Government Wharf will gather people to sing songs, restore the beacon, and participate in traditional smudging ceremonies and drumming while celebrating indigenous culture and heritage.
"We want everybody (the local residents) to be involved... It's going to be quite a show," Ward said.
Arch Durnford, a local restaurant owner who witnessed the last solar eclipse decades ago when he was a teenager, is preparing a special dish for the menu to mark the occasion.
As a resident and business owner in the town, he is looking forward to celebrating the day with his community, despite expected challenges related to weather and catering to tourists.
"Interestingly, we're actually going to see this once in our lifetime," Durnford said excitedly.

The countdown is on, and we’re now less than a day away from America’s total solar eclipse on Monday. As excitement builds across the U.S., from Texas to Maine, millions of people are on edge and wondering whether severe weather or cloud cover will put their viewing experience in jeopardy.

Nevertheless, preparations have been underway for months, if not years, as people from across the country and around the world descend upon areas in the U.S., as well as in portions of Canada and Mexico, where the Moon will pass in front of the Sun and plunge people into darkness along the eclipse’s 115-mile-wide path of totality.

The weather during Monday's total solar eclipse includes severe weather threat

This graphic shows the severe weather threat on Monday, April 8, 2024, the day of America's total solar eclipse.
(FOX Weather)


The severe weather threat in the southern Plains and the South on Monday expanded, and there's now a risk of thunderstorms developing that could produce large hail, damaging wind gusts, and even tornadoes along the eclipse's path of totality in Texas and Arkansas.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has placed more than 20 million people in a Level 2 out of 5 risks on its 5-point severe thunderstorm risk scale, which includes cities along the path of totality like San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Dallas, and Texarkana in Texas.

Little Rock, Arkansas, is also at risk of seeing severe weather on Monday, but the severe weather risk there is slightly lower.

Millions of people in the path of totality in those areas should prepare for the possibility of severe weather.

Elsewhere, the forecasts for the total solar eclipse show that while it will be a nail-biter for good viewing conditions in parts of the southern U.S., it appears that the Ohio Valley and portions of the Northeast and New England will have more optimistic forecasts.

States of emergency, disasters declared ahead of eclipse

Several cities and states across the path of totality have issued disaster declarations or declared states of emergency due to the total solar eclipse.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said its emergency declaration would be in effect from April 6th through the eclipse.

"Such emergency is in response to the solar eclipse and related traffic and possible supply chain shortages in the State of Texas," the declaration read.

Several school districts in Texas, as well as in states like Indiana, OhioVermontNew YorkNew Jersey and Pennsylvania, have planned alternative school schedules, FOX News reports, recognizing that complete darkness can be a safety hazard since it might distract drivers and road commuters.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders also declared a state of emergency that will remain in effect until Wednesday.

Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb, in his disaster declaration for the state, said state and local agencies have been preparing for the eclipse over the past year, and it’s anticipated that there may be a widespread and significant impact placed on Indiana’s emergency response, transportation, communication, and other critical infrastructure systems.

"It is of primary importance to the State of Indiana to be prepared to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public during this event and to be prepared to swiftly and effectively respond to any emergency that may arise," the order read.

Expect travel issues in the path of totality

Anyone who is expected to travel for the total solar eclipse on Monday can expect delays, both on major highways and roads, as well as long lines at airports.

People thinking about last-minute travel into the path of totality may be out of luck when it comes to booking a hotel room or Airbnb.

Vacation analytics firm Airdna. co reports short-term rentals have seen unprecedented occupancy rates, with cities like Dallas in Texas, Cleveland in Ohio, Buffalo in New York, and Jeffersonville in Vermont seeing an occupancy rate of nearly 100%.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned air travelers and pilots that the total solar eclipse on Monday could snarl air traffic, especially at airports in the path of totality.

The FAA posted what it called "special air traffic procedures" on its website and listed the possible impacts on the air travel industry and which airports could be subject to operational changes.

The bulletin included major airports like Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Indianapolis International Airport, and Cleveland International Airport.

Road closures are expected in major cities across the path of totality from Texas to Maine, which are expected to see an influx of people hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

The Dallas Police Department said on X, formerly Twitter, that rolling road closures would occur in downtown areas of Dallas on Monday afternoon, and people should prepare for those impacts.

People who are driving to see the eclipse should prepare for heavier-than-normal traffic, and AAA and provided some safety tips for drivers, like keeping your headlights on and putting down the sun visor to block the view of the sun during the eclipse if driving.

Solar eclipse safety

While millions of people in the southern Plains and South may need to dodge severe weather to stay safe on Monday, millions more will need to take precautions to protect their eyes to view the total solar eclipse.

Eye protection is essential, and to safely view the total solar eclipse on Monday, you'll need glasses with solar filters, also known as eclipse glasses. You may even be able to use a welding helmet or goggles if they're Shade 12 or higher, according to NASA.

Your eyes could receive permanent damage if the proper protection isn't worn while looking at the solar eclipse. In fact, looking at the Sun during the solar eclipse for just 20 seconds caused permanent eye damage to a New York woman after the last total solar eclipse in 2017.

The young woman's vision was 20/20 in the right eye and 20/25 in the left before the eclipse. Within four hours of looking at the Sun, she said her vision was blurry and distorted in both eyes, and the only color she could see was black.

Ophthalmologists fear more people could receive the same type of eye damage during the solar eclipse on Monday.

"The patient actually looked at the Sun with glasses that she thought were protective, and in that case, they weren't protective," said Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, vitreoretinal surgeon of the Ear and Eye Infirmary of Mount Sinai.  "She ended up having damage to the retina, which is like the camera film of the eye, and unfortunately, we're not able to fix that kind of damage."

Cloudy skies forecast for Monday could spell disappointment for many of the millions of North Americans hoping to glimpse the continent's first total solar eclipse since 2017, possibly turning this spellbinding celestial phenomenon into a dud.
Some regions that more typically experience fair skies in April within the "path of totality" - the narrow corridor where the moon can be seen obscuring the entire face of the sun - appear to have the gloomiest weather outlook for Monday.
Much of Texas, considered prime eclipse-viewing territory by many traveling there for the occasion, was predicted in forecast models on Friday to have cloud cover of 60%-80% on eclipse day.
Parts of northern New England, by comparison, looked far more promising. The probability for clear skies was also improving across the middle Mississippi Valley and western Ohio Valley, including Indianapolis, according to the National Weather Service.
"I'm pretty disappointed," Gary Fine, 81, a retired photographer from Los Angeles who booked airfare and hotel reservations for Dallas several months ago, said on Friday as packed for his trip.
Fine briefly considered switching to a New England itinerary as forecasts of overcast conditions emerged in Texas, but he decided that was too costly and difficult. "We'll just go with our original plan and hope for the best," Fine said.
The reversal of fortune is attributed to a storm system moving through the U.S. upper Midwest and an associated cold front, according to Josh Weiss, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center, a branch of the weather service.
Seasonal climate patterns "would suggest that New England and the Ohio Valley would be cloudiest in April, and the southern part of the eclipse path would be the most clear. It just so happens with this weather system it's almost the exact opposite," Weiss said.
Where clear skies prevail, skywatchers along the direct path of the eclipse will be treated to the rare spectacle of the moon appearing as a dark orb creeping in front of the sun, briefly blocking out all but a brilliant halo of light, or corona, around the sun's outer edge.
The period of up to 4 1/2 minutes of totality in the sky will be ushered in by several other eerie eclipse effects.
Some stars will twinkle at midday as twilight abruptly descends, sending temperatures dipping and faint waves of "shadow bands" flickering over the landscape. Birds and other wildlife, reacting to the sudden darkness, may fall silent and still.
Fine, who said he had witnessed two other total solar eclipses in his lifetime, described the experience as "awe-inspiring" and "breathtaking."
Eclipse enthusiasts were expected to flock to cities and towns along a slender zone averaging about 115 miles (185 km) wide slicing through Mexico into Texas and across 14 other U.S. states, then into Quebec and four more provinces of Canada.
An estimated 31.6 million people live in the path of totality, compared with roughly 12 million in the last total solar eclipse that traversed the contiguous United States in August 2017, according to NASA.
But less-than-ideal weather forecasts have stirred anxiety for people who have made travel plans, some booking expensive airline and hotel reservations to get what they hoped would be the best possible view.
As of Friday, according to the Weather Prediction Center, clouds were most likely to impede U.S. viewing from Texas into Arkansas, and possibly in Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania, and western New York. Overcast skies are likewise expected for much of Mexico.
The best chances of clear viewing in the U.S. lie in the northern corners of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, as well as parts of Canada, and from southern Missouri to central Indiana, the center said.
Weiss also said the forecast would likely change by Monday, though current predictions leaning heavily one way or another will probably harden by then.
"I check it three of our times a day," Fine said of the Dallas weather forecast as he was packing for the trip.

North America is on the verge of another masking of the sun.

Monday’s total solar eclipse will make landfall along Mexico’s Pacific coast and cross into Texas and 14 other U.S. states, before exiting over Canada.

It will last almost twice as long, with an even wider audience, than the total solar eclipse that stretched coast-to-coast in the U.S. in 2017.

The moon will shroud the sun for up to 4 minutes, 28 seconds, a spectacle normally unfolding in remote corners of the globe but this time passing over major cities like Dallas, Indianapolis, and Cleveland. An estimated 44 million people live within the path of totality, with another couple hundred million within 200 miles (320 kilometers), guaranteeing the continent’s biggest eclipse crowd ever.

Practically everyone on the continent will get to see a partial eclipse. You can watch the whole thing unfold online, too. NASA is offering several hours of streaming online from several cities along the totality path. The Associated Press will bring live coverage of watch parties and festivities.

And don’t forget your special glasses to safely watch the eclipse.

It all depends on the weather, of course. The National Weather Service is providing daily updates of its cloud cover forecasts along the path.

Here’s more to know about Monday’s celestial showstopper:

What’s a total solar eclipse?

The moon will line up perfectly between the Earth and the sun at midday, blotting out the sunlight. The full eclipse will last longer than usual because the moon will be just 223,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) from Earth, one of the year’s closest approaches. The closer the moon is to Earth, the bigger it is in the sky from our perspective, resulting in an especially long and intense period of sun-blocked darkness. Totality will last the longest over Mexico at 4 minutes, 28 seconds. Elsewhere along the track, like in Syracuse, New York, totality will last just 1 1/2 minutes.

What’s the eclipse path?

The moon’s shadow will slice a diagonal line from the southwest to the northeast across North America, briefly plunging communities along the track into darkness. Totality will enter the continent at Mazatlan, Mexico, and exit at Newfoundland in Canada. In between, 15 U.S. states from Texas to Maine will experience totality, including snippets of Tennessee and Michigan. It will be a repeat for Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Carbondale, Illinois, which were also in prime position for 2017’s total solar eclipse.

A comet during the eclipse?

During totality, you may be able to spot a comet along with four planets, if you’re lucky. Jupiter will be to the left of the sun and Venus to the right. Saturn and Mars will be to the right of Venus, but fainter. The solar system’s three other planets will be in the vicinity, but virtually impossible to see with the naked eye. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is swinging past Earth, as it does every 71 years. Still faint, it will be positioned near Jupiter during the eclipse. But it will take a sudden outburst of dust and gas to see this so-called devil comet without a telescope, according to Anita Cochran of the University of Texas at Austin. But don’t waste time looking for it. “There is lots to see and not that long a time,” she said via email.

Last total solar eclipse in the U.S.?

The U.S. hasn’t experienced a total solar eclipse since Aug. 21, 2017, although a “ring of fire” solar eclipse crossed a part of the country last October. The moon was too far away then to completely blot out the sun, leaving a brilliant, burning ring around our star. The dramatic “ring of fire” stretched from Oregon to Texas, and crossed over Central America and Colombia, before exiting over Brazil. Kerrville, Texas, just west of San Antonio, is back in the bull’s-eye and expecting another packed house.

When’s the next one?

After Monday, the next total solar eclipse won’t occur until 2026. But it will graze the top of the world, dipping into Greenland, Iceland, and Spain. The next one in 2027 will march across Spain and northern Africa, with totality lasting an incredible 6 1/2 minutes. North Americans will have to wait until 2033 for another total solar eclipse, but it will be limited to Alaska. In 2044, Western Canada, Montana, and North Dakota will have front-row seats. And in 2045, the U.S. will once again experience a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse.

 The last time a total solar eclipse passed through this Texas town, horses and buggies filled the streets and cotton fetched 9 cents a pound. Nearly 150 years later, one thing hasn’t changed: the threat of clouds blocking the view.

Overcast skies are forecast for Monday’s cosmic wonder across Texas, already packing in eclipse chasers to the delight of small-town businesses.

As the moon covers the sun, daytime darkness will follow a narrow corridor — from Mexico’s Pacific coast to Texas and 14 other states all the way to Maine and the eastern fringes of Canada. The best U.S. forecast: northern New England.

Like other communities along the path of totality, Waxahachie, a half-hour’s drive south of Dallas, is pulling out all the stops with a weekend full of concerts and other festivities.

It’s the region’s first total solar eclipse since 1878. The next one won’t be for almost another 300 years.

“I feel so lucky that I don’t have to go anywhere,” the Ellis County Museum’s Suzette Pylant said Saturday as she welcomed visitors in town for the eclipse. “I get to just look out my window, walk out my door and look up.”

She’s praying the weather will cooperate, as are the owners of all the shops clustered around the historic courthouse made of red sandstone and pink granite in the center of town. They’re bracing for a few hundred thousand visitors for Monday’s 4 minutes, 20 seconds of totality, close to the maximum of 4 minutes, 28 seconds elsewhere on the path.

The Oily Bar Soapery is hosting a Bubble Blackout all weekend, with eclipse-themed soaps and giveaways. Among the handmade soaps: “Luna,” “Solar Power,” “Mother Earth” and “Hachie Eclipse of the Heart.”

The next one is centuries away “so we figured we’d go all out,” explained owner Kalee Hume.

Nazir Moosa, who owns the Celebrity Cafe and Bakery, winced when he heard the weather report, but noted: “It’s weather. You can’t control it.”

An antique shop displays “Totality Prepared” sign ahead of the solar eclipse in Waxahachie, Texas on Saturday, April 6, 2024. Waxahachie will be in the path of totality for Monday's eclipse of the sun. (AP Photo/Laura Bargfeld)

An antique shop displays “Totality Prepared” sign ahead of the solar eclipse in Waxahachie, Texas on Saturday, April 6, 2024. Waxahachie will be in the path of totality for Monday’s eclipse of the sun. (AP Photo/Laura Bargfeld)

North of Austin, Williamson County residents hope the eclipse puts the area’s new park on the map. The River Ranch County Park, which opened in July on the outskirts of the city of Liberty Hill, is sold out and ready to host hundreds on Monday

“It still has that new park smell,” said Sam Gibson, the park’s assistant office administrator.

Stacie Kenyon is inviting people to watch the eclipse from her Main Street Marketplace in the heart of Liberty Hill’s historic downtown — and escape inside the boutique if it rains.

“We were really hopeful, but now with this weather, it is kind of a bummer,” Kenyon said. “We will just have to wait and see.”

In Waxahachie, there’s a sense of deja vu around the town of 45,000 residents.

A banner in the museum’s front window, displaying newspaper headlines from the July 29, 1878, eclipse, detailed the cloudy skies all morning. But just before the moon lined up between the sun and Earth that afternoon, the sky cleared.

Motorists traveling toward Austin, Texas are reminded of Monday's eclipse and the possibility of traffic delays Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Austin. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Motorists traveling toward Austin, Texas are reminded of Monday's eclipse and the possibility of traffic delays Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Austin. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Kalee Hume stands alongside her handmade eclipse-themed soaps at her shop in downtown Waxahachie, Texas, on Saturday, April 6, 2024. Waxahachie will be in the path of totality for Monday's eclipse of the sun. (AP Photo/Marcia Dunn)
Kalee Hume stands alongside her handmade eclipse-themed soaps at her shop in downtown Waxahachie, Texas, on Saturday, April 6, 2024. Waxahachie will be in the path of totality for Monday's eclipse of the sun. (AP Photo/Marcia Dunn)

Visiting from Campbell, California, Ed Yuhara studied weather patterns before settling on northern Texas to view the eclipse with his wife, Paula, and a few friends. “It turns out it will be the exact opposite,” he said while touring the museum.

He was in Oregon for October’s “ring of fire” solar eclipse but got rained out.

Rain or shine, the Yuharas, and their friend Liz Gibbons plan on celebrating. “It’s a visual and physical experience and at my age, which is 75, I will never see one again,” Gibbons said.

Totality won’t sweep across the U.S. like this again until 2045, sidestepping almost all of Texas.

“It just blows me away,” Moosa said as he served up a large breakfast crowd. “The hotel rooms are booked and everything else ... it’s very good news for Waxahachie.”

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